Yup. After several years of mediocre and atrocious football, the Los Angeles Rams are topping the NFC West at 7-2 and are super bowl contenders. Sean McVay and company have completely turned around this organization.
At 31, Sean McVay is the youngest head coach in NFL history. McVay is also one of the games brightest offensive minds and seems to have saved Jared Goff’s career. Last season under Jeff Fisher, the Ram’s scored 14.0 points per game and finished below .500 for the 10th straight time. By week 10 of this season, McVay has doubled their points per game average to 32.9. Building a strong offensive line through free agency and loading up on quality receivers like Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Sammy Watkins has helped McVay’s quarterback, Jared Goff, immensely. That’s not the only thing that’s helped Goff.
One of biggest impacts that McVay has had on Goff is the Ram’s offense. McVay has adopted an outside zone running scheme with frequent play-action. The outside zone running game flows the defense to the point of over committing towards a play creating great cutback lanes for explosive running backs like Todd Gurley to run free. Letting Gurley carry the ball keeps a lot of pressure off of Goff to perform well, helping the young quarterback. The outside zone running scheme is also conducive to play-action. Since the running game with Gurley has been so dominant, running play action on first and second down slows down pass rushers and manipulates linebackers and safeties. According to Football Outsiders, a quarter of the Ram’s pass plays are play action and it’s working out; they are averaging 8.5 yards per play. This goes to show that McVay’s play calling has been critical to the Ram’s success. The play-action pass creates easy reads for the developing Goff and allows his arm strength to shine.
McVay’s use of offensive formations has also greatly improved Jared Goff’s play. The Ram’s predominantly run plays out of clustered offensive sets. This means tight ends line up closer to the formation by shortening line splits, creating more room between the hash marks and the sideline. These Closer splits force defenders to cover more ground and route possibilities. A variety of rub and pick route combinations has made it easy for Goff to complete throws down the field, move the chains, and get into a better rhythm. Under McVay, Goff’s passer rating went from 63.6 (Last in the league) to 101.5 (7th).
McVay has inherited a team with a solid defense with talent at all three levels. Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, and Connor Barwin on the defensive line, Alec Ogletree at linebacker, and Mark Barron in the secondary have lead this dominating defense. The Ram’s special teams unit has been one of the best in the league because of punter Johnny Hekker and Wide Receiver/Kick Returner Pharoh Cooper.
The Ram’s outside zone running scheme has revived the career of Todd Gurley after an abysmal first season in Los Angeles, taking the pressure off of Goff to perform. McVay’s play calling and use formations has created a more comfortable system for the young Goff to develop his skills and succeed. At the moment, it all seems to be coming together for the Los Angeles Rams. McVay and company have a very tough opponent in the Minnesota Vikings coming up. This game will be critical to the Rams season and could solidify them as a true contender for the Super Bowl.
On Colin Cowherds show, The Herd, Peter King said: “The last four seasons the number one team in point differential in the NFL, the last four years, every year, that team made it to the Super Bowl, and three years that team has one the Super Bowl. The Rams are way ahead in point differential after 10 weeks. So, as my daughter would say, I’m just saying.”
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